GRANGER at Halloween for 10/26/16: THE TEAR IN THE WRAPPER

Truth in advertising“, it read.

Image result for coffee and Autumn

Granger was fed up with the glut of political flyers in his mailbox and inboxes.  Tossing on his desk the garishly colored hit piece in yoga pants by a former state senator, he swung around and gazed unfocused out the window at a grayish, cotton-streaked sky with bruise-blue accents.  Chuffing through his nose, he thought, “Even the sky’s puzzled by it all.”

Bemused, he reached for his “Coffee Made Me Do It” mug.  Just before he got it to his mouth, he noticed the “fun-size” Butterfinger laying on his desk; it had been hidden by the big black mug.  Glancing over at the glass bowl full of assorted Halloween-sized candy, he saw many other bars identical to the one huddled behind his coffee.  You won’t get away from me-e-e . . .

Image result for fun-size Butterfinger

Amused at the desire-borne moisture in his mouth, he glommed onto the familiar yellow-orange-gold wrapper.  Granger actually licked his lips as he tore the wrapper lengthwise.

Opening the wrapper, he grimaced in disgust.  Really?  Instead of the neat, compact one-by-two-inch chocolate-covered nougat he expected to find, a sharded mess of odd-shaped pieces had fallen onto his black crew-neck tee and khaki pants.

Irritated, he started to grouse about something more to clean up when he suddenly got quiet.

I know people like that, he reasoned.  Brightly packaged, looking like others in The Bowl, like they’ve got it all together–until the wrapper comes off.  Unwrapped, they’re a ragged, jagged collection of misshapen pieces just waiting to fall all over the place.

Yeah, I know people like that.  I’ve been like that.

Image result for people wearing I'm fine masks

As these thoughts jostled each other in his mind, he glanced again at the phrase off the discarded voting flyer:  “Truth In Advertising”.

Image result for people wearing I'm fine masks gif

Granger’s eyes blurred and his voice thickened as he spoke aloud, a habit of those who spend most of their time alone.  “Oh, yeah.  Many’s the time that, had my wrapper torn, all my hidden insecurities, my personal misgivings, self-doubt, all those questions about myself would be laying all over in a huge, untidy mess just like–here he made a rueful face as he surveyed the slightly-sticky, sweet mess he’d dumped on his clothes– “my ill-fated little candy bar buddy, may it rest in pieces.”

Image result for Community Golden Caramel coffee

Later, wearing a comfortable black-and-red shirt with the sleeves rolled half up and a soft pair of old jeans, he stood with mug in left hand and coffee carafe in right, thinking about the recent experience.  Shaking his head as if to wake up, Granger poured a fresh, fragrant cup of Community Golden Caramel, returned to his desk chair and sat pondering.

Is it wrong to present a public appearance that’s attractive, appropriate to one’s task?  Does that not reflect good self-image and -respect?

Is it deceptive to present an outward persona that’s positive and uplifting, even when one’s interior landscape more resembles a barren wasteland?  As a Christ-follower, isn’t being winsome and attractive kind of necessary?

Sipping thoughtfully at the semi-sweet, smooth coffee, he answered his own question.

Deception is willful.  Wearing a mask is intended to hide, to frustrate and conceal.  If those are the reasons for the wrapper, then the advertising is dishonest and disingenuous.

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

Image result for Christ Like spirit despite internal pain

If one’s desire is to be a consistent positive, encouraging and Christlike witness to one’s own world, then God can be trusted to know how to tenderly deal with the internal brokenness.  To fit the nonfitting.  To create beauty and symmetry just as perfectly as He did at The Original Event.

Rising to refill his mug, Granger thoughtfully nabbed another of the sweet, chocolaty morsels from the Halloween bowl.  Grinning as he softly checked that this one was whole, he admitted to himself, I don’t have this here “for the kids” since none ever come up here.  I have this here for me.  And I’m lovin’ it!

Butterfinger?

© D. Dean Boone, October 2016

 

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, May 17, 2018: WHERE HAVE ALL THE SHOWERS GONE?

I don’t remember that first shower of married life, that cloudy Portland morning of May 18, 1974.

Irish Spring?  Probably.  I’d bunked with Dad and Mom, and that was Dad’s go-to soap for as long as I can recall.  I think he got some kind of reward for having bought so many bars of it.  In the Air Force, with TDYs a fact of life, I’d learned to scan the soap dishes in the showers before opening a precious new bar of my own.  I was pretty utilitarian about it, using what was there first – if usable.  At Dad’s house, the shower soap was Irish Spring.

Glad Dad wasn’t into Dove.

“So, forty-four years of showers, huh?”

Mm-hmph.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 16,060 of them – one for every day or so of our journey together.

“Y’know, I heard writers are weird, but—thinking of showers on your anniversary?”

Oh, that Friday was memorable for the usual reasons.  I’d soon be marrying my oldest best friend.  We were about to become a couple.  A thing.  What the Bible calls ‘one’.  We’d known each other since toddlerhood, and our two families knew each other personally and professionally.

Other things were happening that day.

  • 18th European Cup: Bayern Munich beat Atletico Madrid 4-0 at Brussels.
  • Dmitri Shostakovitch completed his 15th String quartet.
  • Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) exploded four bombs in the Republic of Ireland, killing 33 civilians and wounding 300 (highest number of casualties in a single incident during “The Troubles”).
  • Marcia Turner, Miss America of 1996, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Sendhil Ramamurthy, American actor, was born.
  • Wiki González, Venezuelan baseball player, was born.
  • Actor Charles Braswell, (Only Game in Town), died at 49.
  • Ernest Nash, German born archaeologist (b. 1898) died that Friday.

None of that registered.  It was our wedding day.  The ‘wedding party’ had decided at the last minute to take in the Portland Zoo that morning, and it blessed Mom’s socks off because she got left with all the last-minute prep that always is a part of all weddings everywhere.  Normally taciturn, she was griddle-hot when we all finally showed up.

Not an auspicious start for her new son-in-law.  The shower before the wedding was short.

We meant no offense by it.  Our minds were already on the road, headed toward the new home we were starting together.  I was on leave from my duty station in Great Falls, Montana, and needed to be back for duty on the following Tuesday morning.  Shortly after reciting our vows and a swift change of clothes, we only flipped a U-turn when we realized Dad still had our marriage license.  Otherwise, we were on the road first thing Saturday morning, stopping at my parents’ home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for what still takes the place of a honeymoon.

“Your—you spent your first n—”

Technically the second, but at my parents’ house.  Yes.  As an Airman First Class, I wasn’t awash with money.  Mother said, “Well, just stay here overnight.  You can use my bedroom, and I’ll have coffee and breakfast ready for you in the morning.”

She had me at coffee.  Well, and breakfast.  It was another three hundred twenty-nine miles to Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, and slightly over six hours’ driving time.

Forty-four years later, there’s little my bride and I haven’t seen, and with God’s help, weathered and survived.  We’re both worn around the edges, fuzzed by the stuff of which life is made.  The sharp contrasts of romance and excitement, of getting used to another human in each others’ space have gradually been worn and polished in the lapidary of experience and God’s grace.

Don’t mistake that for softness.  Life’s diverted us through some whitewater rapids.  We’ve rafted them together through Grace and the grit with which both sets of parents raised us.  Just because we look calm and are saying little, we both are titanium inside.  To this day, if anyone asks me to define ‘tough’, I just step back, gesture toward Babycakes, and gently smile.

How shall we celebrate this 44th anniversary?

Shower for me, hot, soaking bath for her.  Yeah.  Dove . . .  Later this week, we’ll decide which of the great eateries of Wichita deserve two such veterans of Life As It’s Really Lived.  We’ve learned that it’s not the day that’s important.

Every day is important.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go continue something I’ve been doing for many years:  taking my bride a cup of fresh, hot coffee to help her awaken and start this new day.

Brenda, love?  Thank you.  Without your influence and presence in my life, I’d not be near the man I now am.

Hmm?  Oh.  Dollar Shave Club’s Mint & Cedarwood hard soap.  I can’t stand to look at Irish Spring.

© D. Dean Boone, 17 May 2018

 

 

Categories: Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee for 5/10/18: YES, THE MAMA!

I knew I had just written history’s all-time, lifetime-achievement Mother’s Day message.

No new pastor before or since had ever shown such sparkling wit and penetrating insight.

See the source image

I knew every other pastor would read my work and lower his eyes in blushing shame.  I knew publishers would be lined up at my door, begging for just one more paragraph.  I knew I was in trouble because I had next year to plan for and I’d swung for the fences on this one.

Funny, you say?

Give it some thought.  How long has your pastor served your church?  How many years has he stepped up to deliver holiday-themed messages that have kept you sniggering long after he’s gotten serious?  Kept you dabbing at your eyes and clearing your throat?

Un-hunh.  Wull, it ain’t as . . . easy as it looks, pelgrum.

As challenging as it is to constantly generate fresh, inciteful, engaging material for every special day, that pales next to trying to describe the importance of mommas.  Seriously.  Your pastor deserves a homemade pie, a pound of his favorite coffee, and a great book just for trying.

There are no adequate words that do my mother justice.  As adept a wordsmith as I work at being, I’d always be leaving something out.  Ida Jane Wise married into this merry band of Boones, picking my quiet, hard-working dad, one supposes, because he seemed the safest choice of all the rest of the Boone men she encountered.  I guess she momentarily overlooked the fact he was directly descended from Daniel.

To be fair, my father hadn’t any more clue of the marital adventures awaiting him, either.  Ida Jane was disgustingly cheery no matter the obstacle.  If she ever faced one that scared her, I never knew about it.  When told at 91 she had a kidney tumor, she never hesitated:  “Take it out, then.  The other’n works just fine!”  At five-foot-zip, my mother was fearless.  She was a human lie detector with the aural acuity of a wax moth.  Trying to sneak back into the house after dark was like trying to smuggle daylight past a rooster.

My mother’s faith in God was legendary.  Never a morning passed that you’d not find her sitting quietly with her coffee, worn Bible laying open as she spent time with Jesus.  Like as not, there would be tiny tear-pools in the polished maple wood of our dining table where she’d been once again praying over and for her children and extended family.

I began my quiet time habit early on, even before understanding it, by observing her.

Ida Jane wasted no time mooning over The Cooking Channel.  Well, yeah, it hadn’t yet been invented.  Though never trying to be a gourmet chef, she could make hearty, healthy, filling meals out of less than anyone I ever knew.

Wherever we lived was ‘home’, a place of solace, joy, music and flowers where neighbors were always welcome, and coffee always on.  I always wondered upon moving who’d take care of all the roses and shrubs my mother planted.  Lighthearted:  “Not my worries.  I’ve left this place nicer, greener and more lovely than when we moved in.  That’s what matters.”

It’s a life philosophy I adopted.

My father never came home to a messy house or a sloppy yard, even during my three eldest siblings’ early childhood during The Great Depression.  Whether a tent or a boxcar, Ida Jane always made the best of what she had, fixing what she could, doing without what she couldn’t.

Nothing in life gave her any reason to believe it would be easy.  That would lead one to think she became sour and cynical, approaching each dawn with the assessing glare of an air crash survivor scanning fellow survivors for possible nutritional value.  You didn’t know my mother.

Can you say, “Reveille” played on the piano?  When Mother was up, the house was annoyingly, cheerfully up as well.

So, no.  After decades of Mother’s Day messages, articles, and posts, I’m no closer to getting a handle on the woman God gave me as “The Mama” than I was that first Mother’s Day Sunday of my preaching years.

I know what you’re thinking.

“What about your wifeYour kids’ mother?”

If I’m still challenged in discerning and articulating the worth, the impact of Ida Jane after all these years, what makes you think I’d do any better trying to offer tribute to the woman who dared to partner with me 44 years ago next Thursday?

Brenda, whom most of you know as Babycakes, is unique in all womandom.  Well, yes, in a way all women are thus singular.  Yet the one who became my wife back in 1974 is unlike any other from the standpoint of grit, determination, and sheer will to ‘make it work’.

  • She watched me wave bye-bye to several well-paid careers in favor of following God’s leading into pastoral ministry.
  • She suffered what every pastor’s wife weathers, watching and hearing her mate be savaged and shredded by pride- and tradition-bound church members not particularly keen on growing.
  • She saw her big, muscular hubby instantly brought down to certain death by a previously-unknown disease.
  • And though God intervened with miraculous, medicine-defying healing, she how has a permanently-disabled little man where a big, healthy one once was.  I can and do still do what I’m able; just not as much, and not for as long.

My children’s mother never signed on for that.  At any point, she could’ve done what other stressed-to-the-breaking-point wives have felt forced to do.

She didn’t.  Hasn’t.  Won’t.

You could say it’s the spirit of Ida Jane all over again.  You wouldn’t be far off.

What does being The Mama mean, then?

One day two of our three, Jennifer and Cass, were home from school.  Nate was expected in from football practice any time, so I and the girls were all kind of doing our own thing while Brenda ran to the store for last-minute dinner fixin’s.  True to form, Nate slammed through the door in a credible proximation of a young ‘nado.  He dumped books, etc. on the sofa and proceeded with the patented search of all adolescents everywhere.  Not finding his mom anywhere on the premises, he stormed good-naturedly back into the living room.

      “WHERE IS EVERYBODY?”

Three pairs of eyes went, “Really?”

That’s what ‘The Mama’ means.  Get used to it.

Yes, you did, too, say it trying to sound like John Wayne.

You’ll have to take my word about the wax moth until you do your own search.  It’s enlightening.

Oh, yeah.   And you need to cover for the 23,417 things your pastor will be feeling pressured to do while he’s supposed to be enjoying the pie, coffee, and book.  That, too, is enlightening – and humbling.  Pray for him; hold him up.  Love on him and let him know you’re glad God brought him to your worshiping fellowship.

And be sure to take special care of The Mama of his kids and household.  Nothing you do could mean more.

 

© D. Dean Boone, May 2018

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Granger – 4/24/18: YOU GONNA EAT ALL THAT?

What on Earth is THAT mess?”  Sparks always was such a sensitive soul.  His six-three frame let him peer over my back gate.  “Okay to enter?  I didn’t want to be one of Biff’s snacks.”  I interrupted typing ideas into my laptop long enough to cast a droll look at him.  It would’ve qualified as beetling but I’d recently trimmed my eyebrows.

See the source image      “If you happen to be referring to my plate, this is my breakfast.”  Being unsnarky is an art, though I admit I was hard-pressed to resist a sarcasmic retort.  Some folks just bring the sarc out in one.

“Dude!  You can’t even see the plate.  What you got there could feed a family of four!  Well, five if they’re on a low-protein diet . . .”  The young deputy sheriff unlatched the hefty back gate and stepped in, latching it behind him.  He helped himself to one of the cushioned swivel-rocking seats I keep on the back patio.  Biff galloped up, skidding to a stop and waiting expectantly for the inevitable snack Sparks always seemed to have.

See the source imageThe powerfully-built Shar-pei was a beautiful shade of caramel, a heavily-muscled dog whose massive chest and squarish muzzle belied his goofy nature with those who knew him.  He was the perfect match for me.  I never had to worry about unwanted encroachment at my home; typical of his breed, my big pet let even acquaintances know:  nobody gets past the Biffster unless I allow it.  He’s not aloof; he’s just proud of his “DOG ON DUTY” sign.

Sparks grinned as the dog nuzzled his hand until he finally pulled a small dog treat from his pocket.  While he was distracted by Biff’s trying to con him out of another one, I struggled to reassert my creative juices enough to complete the thought I’d been developing.

The only ones who say anybody can write well are those who’ve never seriously done any of it.  After a couple of abortive attempts, I gave up, put my trusty laptop to sleep, and took several man-sized bites of delicious—

“Seriously.  What all you got in there?”

“Ah gaw thith edth, shawub madoes nam a uyuhs an murooms an sheez, wi—I stopped to swallow and suction up an approximate pint of coffee.  “With toast and jay-lih.”  I couldn’t entirely hide my half-smirk as I watched his eyebrows almost meet in his attempt to translate my stuffed-mouth dialect.  We’d been through this drama enough times I’d have thought he was cured of asking questions of me when my mouth’s full.

“Did you just mumble SIX eggs with whatever-whatever?”  I was busy chewing.  Nodding seemed prudent.  I did.

“Lemme get this straight.  You’re, what, one-seventy, right?”  The nod worked before.  I tried it again.  I was having too much satisfaction chewing.  “And you’ve stayed at that weight for how long?”  Rats.  A nod wasn’t going to work.  I wagged my head, exaggerating my chewing.  I did hold up my left forefinger, signaling I’d heard the question.  There are some foods so delicious it’s a pity one can’t swallow them twice.

“Fifteen years.”  Did I mention I love that Tabasco brand milder jalapeno sauce?  And this locally-baked Stone Hearth Rustic bread?  With blackberry jam?


 “Not everything that at first looks like a blessing turns out to be one.”


“And you get to eat like this at every meal?”

I stopped chewing and waited until he raised his eyes from where he’d been fiddling with Biff and saw the look in my eyes.  I slowly shook my head.  “No.  I have to.”

“You h—”  For one of the few times in the years I’d known this younger man, he was speechless.  Again, I nodded.

“Not everything that at first looks like a blessing turns out to be one.”

We spent several hours enjoying the kind of visit only good, close friends can have.  Yet after he’d had to leave in response to a call, I mentally replayed the assessing look he gave me.  It was yet another lesson we all must learn as we travel along on this journey God’s laid out before us.

Not everything that at first looks like a blessing turns out to be one.

Take nothing for granted.

© D. Dean Boone, April 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

2nd Cup of Coffee for 4/16/18: MIGHT AS WELL FAITH THE FACTS

It is a thing of pleasure to listen to a masterful communicator.  Our lead pastor is one.

Yesterday morning’s message was a piece of a series, the theme of which is seeing Jesus for who He is, and working to follow in that understanding as authentically as possible.  Studying in Luke 18, Pastor Brent ended that study passage with verse 8:  “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?”

That verse has always got my attention.  The passage talks about a cynical, dispassionate judge who’d seen and heard it all in his courtroom.  Seems there was a widow who had a knack for nag, and she kept pestering him for justice.  If you don’t know the story, stop reading this, grab the nearest Bible, and refresh Luke 18:1-8 in your mind.

See the source imageI’ll wait.  I need to refill my “FORMERLY KNOWN AS STUD MUFFIN” mug, anyways.  C’mere–I’ll refill your cup while you’re reading.

Got it?  Alrighty, then.

So Jesus finishes this little story, then casually slides in the question in verse 8.  Subtle as a flash-bang grenade.  Jesus was a master with those one-liners, by the way.  In them reside some of His most potent truths, designed to keep The Lads pondering what in Galilee He meant long after He’d either physically gone elsewhere, or had switched topics.

Ever wanted to ask Jesus, up front and personal, what He meant by something He said?  Luke 18:8 would be a super place to start.

  • “When, not if.  He flat told them, without fanfare, He’d be back.  Considering God’s track record, I’d believe Him.
  • He lumped the Twelve – and you and me – in His query:  “Am I going to find faith when I come back?  Any faith?”  “Well, what are we–chopped lox?”  His point:  if we’re not careful, the closer we get to His return, we could lose our hope and abandon our faith, too; especially in light of how many people there are surrounding us who are just as disbelieving and jaded as that judge.  Some would say they have reason to be.  In a single question, Jesus nailed it:  “As Time gets short, you keep your eyes on Me.  Focus on Me, not each other, nor your churches or ministries or—”  He knew it’s deceptively easy to drift as Hebrews warns.  The farther from God a culture swerves, the easier it is for the Church to begin a Leftward drift into “It’s okay.  Everybody’s doing it.”

But here are the new takeaways I got from yesterday’s Scripture lesson, as written by Dr. Luke.

When Jesus returns, there will be:

  • prayers as yet unanswered

  • faith as yet unrewarded

  • passionate persistence as yet unnoticed (at least from our perspective)

So.  Statements like, “Someday, the last prayer will be answered…” are romantic, but not factual.  Your last prayer, maybe.  But not the final one.  When Jesus asks if He’ll find any faith here upon His coming back, He’s telling us it’ll still be available to exercise.  Still available and effective to live by.

Hebrews says right at the end of Chapter 11 NONE of us will ever see ALL our earthly dreams, hopes and faith borne out–because God’s waiting until we’re all Home together, so that His best hits us all at the same time! 

You wanna talk ‘party’, here?

See the source imageRay is our newest family member, a 4-year-old registered Shar Pei.  At least twenty-seven times during the day, I’m telling him, “Wait” and making the ‘stop’ sign with an upraised hand.  Repetition.

If that persistence works with training animals, why are we so shocked when God uses it with you and me?


“Patience, grasshopper.  The best is yet to come.”


“What?!?  More of that delayed gratification cra—  junk?”

Yep.  You got it.  It’s like the Holy Spirit is gently smiling and saying, “Patience, grasshopper.  The best is yet to come.”  So, yeah, no.  We may not see all the answers to our earthly praying until we’re there with Him, and can see it all playing out perfectly in EternalVision.

And when you think about it, that’s pretty cool.

It just might be worth the wait.

© D. Dean Boone, April 2018

Categories: Common Sense, Encouragement, Inspirational | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 4/12/18: IF THE GLOVE FITS

I was tired to begin with, so when I got Mom’s call I wasn’t very gracious.

“You want to what?  Today?”  She’d been putting off going through my step-dad’s stuff, and I guess I’d gotten used to her kicking that particular cannister down the road.

“I know, honey.  It’s just that I’ve been delaying this and waiting ’til a good time.  I guess I finally realized there isn’t a good time.  I mean, Jerrold’s been gone a year already, and, well . . . ”  I stood shaking my head in frustration.  The stack of things I needed to do, errands needing to be run.  I guess getting Bart to the vet for his annual shots could be postponed, and Junelle’d have a couple dozen Snickerdoodle Supremes for the volleyball boosters on Saturday instead of today.  The rest of my To-Do list would just have to switch to Not T’day, Eithers.

“Sure, Mom.  Put the coffee on.  I’ll head that way.”  I think I kept the resigned whine out of my voice, although I confess I kind of gritted my teeth, but would’ve sworn I was smiling if anybody’d seen me.  I spent a little time trying to rearrange schedules and appointment times, then grabbed my keys off the counter.

Want me to be honest?  It hacked me off that Veradean and Shiryl weren’t there when I arrived in Mom’s driveway.  I mean, they were Jerry’s real daughters.  I never knew my real father, who’d abandoned Mom when she was pregnant with me.  I was 9 when she married Jerry, whose first wife had died when my two step-sisters were in kindergarten.

As I wiped my shoes on the old bristley, homemade welcome mat before going in, I reflected it was just as well neither of them were there.  I never have fit in with them.  They made it clear Jerry was their dad, not mine.  Both of them have, well, pretty faces and nice bodies, so their social calendar was always full from middle school on.  They never once asked me to go with them, they never wanted for anything, they—-

Enough.  I suddenly realized I’d been standing there, kitchen door ajar about 4 inches, the tantalizing aroma of Mom’s monkey bread making perfect scents when combined with the fragrance of just-brewed coffee.  I was letting two absent women keep me from being with my Mom.  She and I look and sound a lot alike, and until Jerry was in the picture, she and I were as close as we could be and not be joined somehow.

“There you are.  I was afraid maybe you wouldn’t be able to make it, after all.”  She was watching me as she slid a mug with “Grand Tetons” on it over to me, brimming with fresh coffee.  She was more aware than either of Jerry’s girls how I’d never felt part of their lives.

“Oh, no, I just had to switch some times around and—”  The tablecloth.  It was once white and green checks, though it was now faded and still had that stain I remember from where Veradean had broken Jerry’s fountain pen while playing with it.  I remembered the vinyl tablecloth from my childhood when the five of us used to sit around the table playing board games every Saturday evening.

Mom softly smiled.  “I wondered if you’d remember it.  To be honest, I’ve already pretty much gone through your dad’s things.  I wanted to spend a little time with you, since I just have a couple more boxes of—”

“You mean Jerrold?  Well, since I’m here, pass me one of them.”  I noticed Mom’s hurt look, but tried to overlook it as I pulled the folded-over flaps of the cardboard box open.  There was the usual hodge-podge of stuff a man collects across his life, and I did try to be discerning as I separated the savable from the doomed.  I thought I’d emptied it, and lifted it to toss over by the door when I heard and felt something else inside it.

Upending the tattered box, I saw an old glove fall onto the table.  Definite yuck.  Curling my lip, I looked to see if the other one was in there.  Nope.  One glove, the right one.  It was a man’s leather work glove, soiled, stained, lacerated and patched with signs of a lifetime of labor.  I was about to drop it back inside the box before tossing both over by the door when I glanced up and saw the rapt, almost reverent look on Mom’s face.

“What?!?”  I’d rarely seen Mom look that way except in church.  “It’s a dirty, patched old leather glove.  One … glove.  What possible use could it have?”  The patches were equally tattered and threadbare duct tape.  It was ugly and by itself.  What possible use, indeed.

Setting her half-empty box aside, Mom sat there eyeing me and sipping her coffee.  Right then, her eyes seemed like they were about four hundred and thirteen years old.  I knew there were things she knew she wasn’t telling.  I knew she was deciding if it was worth her time to bother.  I knew when it was time to shut it and listen.

“Arlene, do you remember that prom dress you just had to have your senior year of high school?”  Uh-oh.  Mom calling me by my given name is bad ju-ju.  And I did remember the dress.  I also remember the complete jerk I made of myself until I got it.  I’ve always found silence to work great.  It did this time.

“The man you call ‘Jerrold’ somehow heard about it.  Without saying anything to me, he took a second job, working evenings part-time in his brother’s machine shop, to earn enough extra so I could buy that dress you just had to have.”  I was chastened, but still puzzled about what that had to do with this oily, grubby, duct-taped old glove.  Mom saw my bewilderment and pounced.

“The man you call ‘Jerrold’ was required to wear gloves on his second job, but couldn’t afford both a new pair of gloves and still help me buy you your prom dress.  So he took his old gloves, cleaned them up as best he could, and used duct tape to patch the holes in them.  When he told your uncle why he was doing it, he let him use the taped gloves.”  I couldn’t keep it totally shut.  It’s a downfall of mine.

“But why is there only the right one?”  She pounced again, harder.

“One night they were doing a last minute job.  The man you call ‘Jerrold’ was tired and somehow got his left glove caught in a spinning drill press.  He managed to hit the ‘kill’ switch and save his hand, but the glove—”   I was getting it.  I was still a little put off by that snarky way she kept saying, ‘Jerrold’ while waggling her head like that.

“The glove was torn up and had to be trashed.”  Mom just nodded with that look only Moms seem to perfect that’s like how a cougar looks just before it enjoys lunch.  Since silence worked so well before . . .

“Without both gloves, ‘Jerrold’ couldn’t keep working there, so he borrowed enough from his brother to help pay for the rest of your prom dress.”  I sat there, a congealed puddle of greenish-yuck remorse.  I seriously didn’t know what to say.  I’d always thought he was staying away because he didn’t like me; and that Mom had saved up the money for my dress from her sewing she did on the side.

In a barely-audible voice I twice had to clear, I mumbled, “Did he hurt his hand very bad?”

“He was on light duty for a few weeks until he could use it enough to do his main job again.  Anyway, you can go ahead and throw it away if you want as you head back home.”

I sat there, thinking, as I finished my coffee.  Shaking my head, I said, “No.  I’d like to keep this to remind me that none of us ever quite knows the whole story, and we never quite know each other nearly as well as we ought to.”

Mom stood, too, and watched me put on my coat.  Gently picking up the battered and taped old glove, I looked her in the eye and said, “Thanks, Mom, for reminding me of my daddy.”

I loved the shocked look on her face.

And I never did tell her LuAnna Harpster ‘accidentally’ spilled punch on that prom dress and I never did get it out.

It seems the karmic reservoir never runs dry, does it?

© d. dean boone, April 2018

Categories: Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

QTM for 4/11/18: 4 STEPS TO REAL, LIVE QUIET TIME OF YOUR OWN!

“What?”

“Nothin’.”

See the source image     “No, really.  I’ve been blathering on as if.  Shutting up now, and listening.  Can you help me understand what’s troubling you?”

After a few seminal seconds, packed with meaning like a loaded baked potato, the startling answer came.

“I, uh, don’t know how to do quiet time.  I-un even know for sure what it is, what it looks like.”  It was my turn to be silent for a few seconds.  This isn’t a dull-witted gamester with the social skills of a clam.  This young man is an electrical engineer, working on a graduate degree.  He’s not a new Christian, he’s a nominal one who needs coaching, needs to be discipled.

I’m sure he noticed my arched eyebrows.  Good thing I’m not blonde; he’d have had ‘Egg McMuffin’ on the brain and I’d have lost him for sure.  Being an engineer, anything abstract or esoteric would be lost in the translation.  I had to think in simple, black-and-white straight lines.  If the student doesn’t learn it, you never taught it.  Figure out how they learn, and you adapt to them.  Stop forcing them into your Teacher’s Comfort Zone.  If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer . . .

“M’kay.  Let me warm up our coffee, and I’ll draw it out for you.  Americano, right?”  I could tell ‘draw it out’ was working by the way his brow unfurled.  Flowcharts.  Blueprints.  Schematics.  Now we’re cookin’.

See the source image

He thanked me for the joe, reaching for his pocket.  He was getting the tip.  I let him.  Engineers.  He then settled back, iPad ready to take notes, eyeing me expectantly.  Him, not the iPad.  At least I don’t think it was watching me.

ONE:  decide on a place

“Find or choose a spot where you can slow down.  Naw, serious as a ripped hangnail.  S l o w   d o w n.  Leave your devices plugged in somewhere you aren’t, so they can’t distract you.  Leave them there.  Yeah, really.  Leave.  Them.  There.

TWO:  have only your fav Bible and a writing pad there

“Devotionals are great.  Read good ones, old and recent.  Just not now.  None of them come close to examining your thoughts and analyzing your motives and desires like God does as you’re reading His Word.  After all, that’s where good devotionals come from.

THREE:  begin reading in Proverbs, then in the Gospels

“I suggest starting with John.  Do NOT pressure yourself; relax and be alert to the flow of ideas and impressions that come into your mind.  When something you’ve read sticks there, mark your spot and stop reading.  Go ahead and underline, highlight, and make notes in the margins.  One day, someone you love will open that Bible and learn from you, even after you’ve gone on Ahead.  Breathe a quick prayer for discernment and understanding, then write that day’s date and those thoughts down on your pad.

FOUR:  praying is conversation with God

“God understands you in whatever language you’re most comfortable speaking.  Talk to Him just like we’re talking over coffee right now.  The difference is that God speaks through the Bible, through other people and events.  He speaks through music, worship, song lyrics, even observing His natural order.  And there are those special times God speaks directly to your heart and mind.  Just talk to Him, silently or aloud.  Or both.

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“Discuss the things with Him what you just wrote down.  Then pray around your family and loved ones.  Next, pray the news.  You’ll never run out of legitimate things to ask God’s help about.  Pray for those involved with those sirens you just heard.  Plane flying overhead?  Pray safety and blessing over the flight crew and passengers.  When driving during the day, pray for all first responders you notice:  police, firefighters, military personnel, EMTs and ER staff, utilities crews.  Remember every long-haul trucker you pass . . .”

He was looking up at me now, thoughtful.

“Yeah.  Suddenly that PRAY WITHOUT CEASING deal starts making sense, doesn’t it?”  He nodded, eyes slightly squinched.  It always makes me nervous when an engineer’s eyes do that.  Never know exactly what’s going on back there.  I figured he’d had enough for one sitting.

“Congratulations!  You just experienced your very own QT!”  Gathering up my bag with my own Bible, pad, and book, I sat our cups over in the ‘Wash Me’ bin.  “Only one more thing you need to do.”

Ah.  THERE’s that engineer’s look.  You know–that one where their head’s pointed right at you, canted to starboard, eyes pointed approximately 040 degrees?  The silent way of saying, “What now?  I got stuff to do”?

“Do it again tomorrow.”

© D. Dean Boone, April 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Encouragement, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Granger: A CROSS-EYED LOOK AT THE WHOLE EASTER THING – 3/31/18

That early in the morning, I knew Jimmie’s Diner would be almost empty.  That worked for me.  I was in a mood.  And I was almost right.  Other than the cook in back, Peggy Sue was by herself.

See the source imageSolitude must be a comfortable friend if one intends to write.  I enjoyed the closeness of the friends with whom I surrounded myself, yet I was okay with spending large parts of my days alone.  It gave me time to observe.  It gave me time to think.  It gave me time to waffle.

There are pleasantly intrusive things in this life.  One of the most pleasant is the scent of a fresh Belgian waffle.  One can be seated in the middle of a busy breakfast crowd having ordered all the normal fragrant stuff any self-respecting breakfast menu offers.  Let one person order a Belgian waffle, and you can pick that aroma out of all the others – like suddenly being arrested in mid-task by a whiff of a lost lover’s favorite scent.

“I don’t mean to intrude.”  Peggy Sue stood there, coffee cup in one hand and a waffled plate in the other.  Yeah.  “Plated waffle” is normally correct, but you’d need to see a Jimmie’s Belgian to understand the juxtaposition.  “You looked kind of stumped instead of the way you usually are intent when you’re writing.  I usually can only eat half of one of these, anyway, and–well, I’ve seen you eat.”  She blushed slightly, but kept at it.

Points for audacity.

“How about sharing half of this with me?  I’m hungry, and need to eat before the breakfast crowd starts trampling in.”  At my single-raised-brow, she grinned.  “I loved Brother Bear.”  Glancing down, she smirked.  “And, yes, I’ll get some more butter.”

God does in fact move in mysterious ways.  What followed was one of my life’s little serendipities I won’t forget.  It had to be a God thing, for Peggy Sue’s a hard, dedicated worker who seldom has time to sit down, let alone tarry a bit and carry on a conversation beyond, “Hot sauce or ketchup with that?”

See the source imageButter.  Warm syrup.  Barely waiting to cut it up before popping that first big, soft hunk of waffle in the mouth.  Swallowing and taking a couple of unladylike gulps of water to wash it down, she looked pointedly at my pad.  Peggy Sue pointed with her chin as she nabbed another syrupy morsel.

“What’s running through your mind this morning?”  I hesitated.  Writers dislike questions about their unfinished work.  Dislike?  I meant despise.  Yet she’d always shown an appreciation for both my time and privacy whenever I chose Jimmie’s as a writing venue.  Besides, Peggy Sue was made in Rizzo’s and Trixie’s mold:  she kept my coffee cup full of fresh, hot joe.

She deserved more than a brush-off.  Besides, I’d been stuck at a mental intersection for awhile with these thoughts, each of them like a teen just learning to drive, and clueless about to whom to yield.  Taking a thoughtful breath, I sipped some coffee for fuel.

“People who stop communicating soon lose the wonderful closeness they had when they’d been staying in contact.  It’s just the way things are.  When you are close to someone, you talk and listen.  Converse.  Share things with one another no one else knows, or ever will know.  That’s the nature of a close, loving relationship.”

Coffee.

Munching the golden brown syrup-sappiness, Peggy Sue nodded, making momentary eye contact, moving her fork in a circular motion while she chewed and swallowed.

“Let something interrupt that smooth, continuous communication, and the distance between them begins to widen.  Neither may want it, may not even be aware its happening.  But it does.  That’s a fact of human interaction.  You want to remain close to someone, you stay in contact.”  I glanced up to see if she was tracking.  Looked like she was a couple steps ahead of me.

“For awhile, all those things you see – a memorable quotation from a book, or a funny Facebook meme, all those things you openly shared together – make you think, ‘Oh, I need to tell—-‘ But you can’t.  They’re not there, or at least they’re not receiving.”

This time she was ready, having swallowed some water and now sipping coffee.  That half-waffle was gone.  Look of a lady, appetite of a T-Rex.  My kind of friend.  “So what’s the answer?”

“Being perfect in every way, God doesn’t respond to us not talking to Him like we do when we stop talking to each other.  Were God human like some try to remake Him, He’d take a month or two of our refusing to spend quiet time with Him, and say, ” ‘Kay, then.  Cross that one out.  I guess when they decide they want to be in this thing with me, we’ll start again.  Who’s next on the list?”

“He’s not, though.  You could come back to Him months, even years later, and He’s just like He was when you wandered off.  “I was wondering where you’d gone.  I’ve been waiting for you.  Come sit down and catch me up.  I’ve got lots of stuff to share with you, too.”  That’s part of what the Cross and the Resurrection are all about.  It’s God, in perfect, permanent love and relationship, saying to you and I personally, “Welcome back.  I’ve missed you, I love you, and I want to share so much with you.”

Peggy Sue sat thinking.  “I never thought of it all that way before.”

“I hadn’t, either.”

“So, it doesn’t matter how long someone is, what, estranged or distant or–here her voice broke and tears glistened–separated from God, He never gets huffy and quits trying?”  I slowly shook my head.

“God’s not human, the Bible says.  It says nothing can ever separate you and I from His love toward us.  He doesn’t get tired of waiting, He doesn’t start doubting and feeling neglected and insecure when He doesn’t hear from us.”

Peggy Sue was up and gathering her dishes and flatware.  “You always brighten my day when you come in.  This time you gave me something to think about, too.  Thank you.”  She scurried off, seeing the first of the breakfast bunch coming in the door.

I’d given me something to think about, too.  While we were talking, part of my mind was remembering a decades-old lyric I hadn’t thought about in years.  The song was playing through my spirit as I sat with my empty coffee mug in my hand . . .

Time after time I was searching for peace in some void
I was trying to blame all my ills on this world I was in
Surface relationships used me till I was done in
But all the while someone was begging to free me from sin

 Never again will I search for a fake rainbows end
Now that I’ve found the answer my life is just starting to rhyme
Sharing each new day with Him is a breath of fresh life
Oh what I’ve missed He’s been waiting right here all the time

He was there all the time
He was there all the time
Waiting patiently in line
He was there all the time  

~Public Domain

I sat there, toying with my empty cup and feeling alone, while at the same time feeling remorse at projecting my feelings on God.  He never once said to me, “You’re not worth loving.”  He’d gone to the back of the line for me every time – way more than I’d ever have done.  Worse?  I never bothered explaining, automatically assuming God knows everything, so I don’t need to explain.  Part of my feelings?  People aren’t like that.  No matter how close they are, those relationships require some communication, if only to reassure the other they’re still thinking of you, still in your high-Earth orbit. 


  God never once said to me, “You’re not worth loving.” 


I knew my feelings were mine only.  I knew God’s as close as my next breath of welcome.  I knew my hand was about to be scalded.  I pulled it back so Peggy Sue could refill my mug.  In my defense, I did it with class and aplomb, making it look smooth and premeditated.

Her amused grin showed my effort was wasted.  I curtly nodded as if it hadn’t been.  Now we were both amused.

My grin swiftly faded as I thought of how many people struggling to be loveable and needing to be loved heard every put-off translated into those words that drove them deeper into emotional inertia.

You’re not worth loving.

People say that by their actions.  It may be polite, but a shut-out’s a shut-out.  “You’re not worth my time; I’d rather hang with–them, for instance.”  No “See ya.”  Just a disappearing act.  Of course they may not mean it that way.  Usually, it’s because that other person or group is better known to them than you.  Their relationship’s closer.  They’ve been knowing each other longer, etc.  No, they likely don’t mean to shut you out.  But that’s the way it comes across.

No matter what the actual reason, that’s what an injured heart with a tourniquet around it hears.  Eventually, the wounded heart convinces the mind and spirit it won’t work this time, either.  The terrorized, emotionally-exhausted soul gives up and reverts back to a safe, armored place deep within where no one else can reach to cause that kind of hurt again.

Easter, Resurrection Sunday, was God’s way of reaching down, pulling that guarded, tenuous heart gently to Himself and saying, “You wanna see just how much loving you is worth to ME?  Take a good look at that bloody post half-buried in the courtyard where they laid my Son’s back open for you.  Listen to the jeering, profane screams of defiance and hatred from the crowd and from Hell itself at Him trying to get back up just to carry that crossbeam to where they’d be executing Him. 

     “Take a good look into that centurion’s eyes as he stands there staring up at this Man they’d just killed.  Take a good, long look into Joseph’s borrowed crypt.  It’s the only time-share grave you’ll ever see, because IT’S EMPTY.  Take a good look at who’s right here beside me, standing, holding out scarred arms to you.  It’s the first thing Jesus did when He got back here!  He pointed to you and said, “What about him?  And her?  And that guy over there?  And them?”  THAT’s how much you’re worth to Me!”

I knew better than to begin writing just then.  My own heart was too vulnerable.  No worries; I’d not forget that lesson.  I pulled all my writing stuff together, jotting down what I could recall of those lyrics I hadn’t heard or thought of since a college kid.  Then, as Peggy Sue refilled my mug again, I sat back and read them once again, this time taking them as a private message from God to me.

He was there all the time
He was there all the time
Waiting patiently in line
He was there all the time  

When I grabbed my black bag full of writing stuff and the inevitable book, and walked out of Jimmie’s, I had a smile on my face.  And oddly enough, I was humming the tune as the little electronic dealie on the door went, “DEE-doo.”

© D. Dean Boone, April 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

QTMs for Good Friday, 3/30/18: HANG IT ON THE CROSS

There was nothing more hideous and embarrassing than dying on a Roman cross.  It’s natural to associate it with all the despair and ugliness surrounding the event of Jesus’s crucifixion.

I submit the Cross of Christ as God’s ultimate symbol of love for me.  I couldn’t free myself from my habits, my hatreds, my favorite attitudes and my sin.  But Jesus did, just as God told us He would.  Because of Jesus, my life’s forever different.  Hope replaced horrible death.  Heaven makes here look boring.

That same hope is available for you, too.

In this morning’s mail, I found something I want to share with you as we move into Resurrection Celebration weekend.  I don’t care where you’ve been, or what you’re facing.  God’s love and grace can and will help you walk through it, and overcome its effects, living on in personal and spiritual victory.  Jesus proved it on the Cross.

Read and absorb the following.

 

 

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May the fact of Christ’s resurrection and the promise of His eventual return give you joy and hope this Easter!

God’s very best to you, my friend.

© D. Dean Boone, March 2018

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd Cup of Coffee, 3/27/18: THE WISDOM OF THE WABBIT

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Good morning, coffee lover friends.  After some frustrating internet issues, here’s your 2nd Cup, fresh-ground and served up piping hot.  The cream and fixin’s are right over there.

I found this set of fun things on a friend’s site this morning, and it’s catchy enough I want to share it with you.  It’s patterned after the ALL I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE, I LEARNED FROM series.  The teacher in this one, however, is the Easter Bunny.  I know.  Stay with me.

 

ALL I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM THE EASTER BUNNY

 

~ Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

~ Walk softly and carry a big carrot.

~ Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.

~ All work and no play can make you a basket case.

~ Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day. 

~ Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.

~ Keep your paws off other people’s jellybeans. 

~ The grass is always greener in someone else’s basket.

~ An Easter bonnet can tame even the wildest hare. 

~ To show your true colors you have to come out of your shell.

~ The best things in life are still sweet and gooey!

There you are – wisdom fwom the wabbit.

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A big shoutout to MikeysFunnies.com for sharing so much clean humor each week.  I don’t knowingly embarrass fellow writers.  Let me say this much:  Mikey is a nickname for a man with a warrior’s heart whose back story rivals my own for seeing God’s power at work.  If you’re looking for some great good humor you don’t need to hide from the kids, consider checking out his website.

Some of you are wrinkling your nose because I chose to let each statement above stand on its own minus my palaver.  You know me; I was tempted.  However, I’m working on a couple of book projects as well as keeping the java in each 2nd Cup nice and hot – my own, and one for a friend.  I’m managing to stay occupied.

Thanks for being so patient while we ironed out the ‘Net thing.  It’s a handy tool when working, and a hectic mess when it’s not.  It’s wonderful to be back with you, sharing this great Columbian Supremo.

See the source image

An Easter thought:  No matter what or how you believe, had it not been for Jesus’s dying on the cross, rising in death-killing power, and His promised return, life for you and I would be unimaginably different.

Loving you – Dan

 

 

Categories: Common Sense, Humor - Lighten Up, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

2nd Cup of Coffee: BUREAUCRACY IN ACTION

BUREAUCRACY IN ACTION

  1. Start with a cage containing five apes. In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, an ape will go to the stairs and start to climb toward the Banana.
  2. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the apes with cold water. After a while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result–all the apes are sprayed with cold water.
  3. Turn off the cold water. If later another ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes will try to prevent it even though no water sprays them.
  4. Now, remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new ape sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other apes attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.
  5. Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
  6. Again, replace a third original ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape.
  7. After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced.

Nevertheless, no ape ever again approaches the stairs. Why not?

“BECAUSE that’s the way it’s always been done around here.”

from Mikey’s Funnies

 

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